We had the most amazing trip to Idaho this summer and decided that Idaho is a perfect state to get away to adventure because it's so accessible to all of Utah. We chose two places to check out one weekend and all agreed (remember, my kids range in age from 5 years old to 10 years old) that these adventures will be talked about and remembered for years and years to come! And isn't that what we want as parents? To strengthen the bonds we have as a family! So, without further ado, here are the two adventures you MUST take your family on for some epic memories!
Biking the Hiawatha Trail has been on my bucket list for years and I am so glad we finally made it happen. We decided for convenience sake to not haul our bikes, bike trailer and gear and to rent from Lookout Pass in Wallace, ID. And boy howdy, that was the BEST decision!
The staff and crew were so friendly and helpful and knew exactly what would be best for our family. We all got fitted for helmets and bikes (including a bike trailer and a tagalong bike). Matthew Sawyer, pictured here, shared stories about the history of the Hiawatha Trail. Like did you know the train tracks (which the trail runs on) was completed in 1909 and then the very next year a fire destroyed the entire area (we are talking 4 million acres in 36 hours!). I, especially, loved the stories he shared. But my kids especially loved the new take on fist bump...called Squid. It is something that my kids do with each other and us now! Thanks, Matthew!
Here we are double checking that our bikes fit us just right for the 15 mile ride. Oh, and when you rent a bike, they even provide a bike rack for your car (or they'll take the bikes to the trailhead and meet you). And if you rent your bike, you know you will have powerful, working lights for your bikes which is CRUCIAL for the 10 tunnels you ride through. FYI: Every person that rides on the trail must have a permit (you can purchase it at the Lookout Pass location OR at the trailhead).
Here we go into the LONG tunnel! This tunnel is 1.66 miles and I am not going to lie: it is PITCH black dark and cold inside (we are talking 42degrees) and the road - former train tracks - is slick and muddy and gets more so as more riders ride on it throughout the day. In fact, along both edges inside the tunnel are troughs that are 1' deep and 1' wide. So be cautious, especially if you are taking children on this, to keep to the center of the path as it does slightly slope to the edges to keep water off the path.
The tunnels are just so beautiful, so be sure to take time to look up and around as you bike through. Remember, these are MASSIVE as trains used to travel through them, so I can't imagine that anyone would feel claustrophobic biking along the trail.
Here we are waiting for a single-file line for our little family. We double checked our lights and put our jackets on at the entrance and I am so glad we did. I led the way (with my son on the tagalong bike), followed by my three girls and then my husband and bike trailer brought up the rear of our "family train".
One really cool feature in the long tunnel was there were numbers painted on the wall every 20 feet or so that counted up from 0 to 50 and then back down to 0, so we knew how far we had come and how much farther we had to go. It was hilarious to hear my son shout out the number, and then each subsequent child to call it out until we reached the end! It made the 15 minute ride through it go by.
Right outside of the first tunnel, there was this pretty little waterfall, so we had to stop and take a pic and take off our jackets (the bike trailer was really handy for storage of snacks and water bottles and jackets). And the employees told us to take our time and stop along the way - they even estmated that it would take us close to 4 hours to complete it and I thought they were crazy as it was only 15 miles, but guess what?! They were right! There were so many places we had to stop and admire the view, or stop and hike, or stop and eat a snack and get a drink, or stop and ready the numerous historical signs that are placed along the route.
During the ride, you ride over seven trestle bridges and they really were spectacular! One was 980' long!
I am terrified of heights, but felt completely safe ridging on these, especially with the way the railings are designed.
NO one is allowed to stop their bike on a bridge, but you can stop before or after the bridge and then walk onto the bridge for pictures...it is much safer for everyone this way.
Coming out of another tunnel. The first two tunnels were dark inside, the other ones were not as long, so they didn't get quite pitch black. Some riders choose to ride bottom up...hence, those guys heading in the opposite direction.
Too many great photo ops along this route. I must say, though, that the best was the conversations I had with each child as I rode alongside them, taking turns. This may sound cheesy, but it was just magical and I am so glad I experienced it with my kids. Each one of them said they can't wait to go back!
On one of our stops, we saw a deer (if you look closely you can see it in this picture). We hiked up this little hill past a caved in saloon from 100 years ago and found a stream and some malachite in the ground...pretty darn cool!-- Remember to always practice Leave No Trace and leave whatever you find in place so others can enjoy it, too--
This is the spot where we found the malachite and shiny metal in the ground...
The craftsmanship of the tunnels were just so spellbinding - it was like biking through a movie set.
I loved hearing my children "ooh" and "ahh" over it all. At one point, my son (behind me on the tagalong bike) said, "holy cow, mom! Look how small those bikes are on that bridge! Oh, wait, those are probably ants biking." I died laughing, but from the grand scale of everything, they did look like ants, especially to a five year old!
At the end of the Hiawatha trail, we put our bikes and trailer onto the shuttle and rested while they drove us up to the "exit" of the long tunnel, so we could bike back through it to drop off everything and get to our car.
15 miles and still smiling! THAT is a good ride!
Even though this trip was absolutely better than my wildest expectations, there are a couple of things I will do differently in the future. Here they are in no particular order:
- rent 2 tagalong bikes, as both boys wanted to bike; however, having a trailer was so nice to store the snacks and jackets, so if you don't have a trailer, you'll definitely want at least one backpack
- have cash on hand so at the end, we could've bought an ice cold drink or ice cream
- packed a picnic lunch, not just snacks
- packed more water/drinks
- taken a picture with us sitting on a trestle bridge with our feet hanging over